MILLER’S CROSSING
1990, 20th Century Fox, 115 min, USA, Dir: Joel and Ethan Coen

Joel and Ethan Coen’s brilliant, atmospheric tribute to 1930s gangster melodramas is full to the brim with venomous one-liners and a catalog of characters worthy of any pre-WWII James Cagney/Warner Bros. picture. Bitter Gabriel Byrne is adviser to sentimental but tough gang boss Albert Finney in a small Northeastern town. But their complacently corrupt burg is about to erupt in violence when nouveau-riche newcomer Jon Polito and his merciless, grim reaper of an enforcer (J.E. Freeman) make a play for the big time. The supporting cast - including Marcia Gay Harden and John Turturro - is superb, all getting to voice some of the most vitriolic dialogue this side of 1957’s SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS. “The Coens are artists too, and their cool dazzler is an elegy to a day when Hollywood could locate moral gravity in a genre film for grownups.” - Richard Corliss, Time


THE BIG LEBOWSKI
1998, Universal, 117 min, USA, Dir: Joel Coen

“What do you do for recreation?” “Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.” The Dude (a perfectly cast Jeff Bridges) decides to seek satisfaction when he’s mistaken by some German nihilists for an uptight multimillionaire with the same name, Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston). Enlisting the help of his best bowling buddies, short-fuse ’Nam vet Walter (a brilliantly misguided John Goodman) and wimpy Donny (Steve Buscemi), the Dude is determined to get to the bottom of the confusion of identities. With an excellent and appropriately bizarre supporting cast, including a seductive, swing-riding Julianne Moore as Maude Lebowski, John Turturro as bowling rival and pederast “The Jesus,” and Tara Reid as millionaire Lebowski’s bored, pedicured trophy wife.


RESERVOIR DOGS
1992, Miramax, 99 min, Dir: Quentin Tarantino

Director Quentin Tarantino’s self-assured feature debut pits five criminals of different temperament - strangers brought together by an elderly mastermind (perfectly cast Lawrence Tierney) - against an undercover cop who sabotages their jewelry store heist. A riveting saga told in disjointed time with bravura characterizations, spotlighted in the fraternal bonding of Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) and Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), the sadistic antics of psychotic Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), the foul-mouthed comments of Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) and last, but not least, the versatile Chris Penn as Nice Guy Eddie Cabot, Tierney’s faithful son.


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